Hi! I served a mission in the Sweden Stockholm mission several years ago and am now married to a returned missionary and starting a family.

Please share this blog with others so we can help as many future missionaries as possible. Feel free to add your own advice. I hope this can help many young people preparing to go on a mission, but most specifically, sisters.

Have fun and let me know if you have any questions or any post ideas!

Mormon Messages


Simple, mission friendly meal ideas

My sister-in-law had the brilliant idea to include mission friendly meal ideas on this blog. So, every once in a while, I will write up a post that includes a few ideas. Here it goes. Enjoy!

One of my companions and I often made homemade burritos. We usually made them with black beans, cheese, and whatever veggies we happened to have. Sometimes we'd add rice too. We would assemble them and then stick them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. Delicious, cheap, easy to make, and healthy!

Another easy but yummy lunch idea is toasted cheese sandwiches. There's the typical grilled cheese that most people know how to make, but then there's the gourmet toasted cheese sandwiches. Toast a couple of pieces of bread in the toaster, then spread mayo (or whatever other sauce you have/like) on them. Layer your choice of cheese(s), any type of meat (or no meat at all), and sliced tomatoes on the bread. You could also put spinach, mushrooms, onions, etc on top although those are less common in a missionary apartment. Top with basil and/or oregano, or whatever spices you have/like. (Notice that these are open face sandwiches.) Then toast in the oven for a few minutes. You can be very creative with these as you play with the ingredients and see what you like best. One of my favorite variations is simply bread, mayo, cheese, a slice of tomato, and basil. Yum!
**When toasting/broiling these in the oven, be very careful since they can burn quickly.

Instead of making a sandwich, put the same ingredients in a tortilla and make a wrap. I love adding a little ranch to mine.

One of our family favorites is broiled bagels. We'll put cream cheese and lunch meat on bagels then broil them in the oven for a few minutes. Mmm! You could also do tuna fish and cheese on the bagels instead.
**When toasting/broiling these in the oven, be very careful since they can burn quickly.

How about quesadillas? Fry a couple tortillas with beans, meat, peppers, or whatever you want and of course lots and lots of cheese inside. Delicious served with salsa.

Or maybe egg salad sandwiches. Boil a couple of eggs, mash them up and add mayo (and maybe mustard) until spreadable. Sprinkle with seasoned salt or any other seasonings you like. Spread on a couple pieces of toast and enjoy!

Canned chili is a yummy, relatively healthy lunch. Especially delicious with cheese and Frito's or tortilla chips.

To see more simple, mission friendly meal ideas, read Part 2 or Part 3!

A dictionary for mission lingo

zone = Each mission is separated into zones. They are comparable to stakes (and districts). It depends on the mission, but there are usually about 2 - 4 districts in each zone.
zone leader =  Two elders are called to be the leaders of each zone. They lead each zone conference (generally once a month or once a transfer) and are responsible for the missionaries in their zone. It's their job to make sure everyone is safe and working hard.
district = Each zone is separated into districts. These are comparable to wards (and branches). It depends on the mission, but there are usually about 6 - 12 missionaries in a district.
district leader = One elder is called to be the leader of each district. He leads each district meeting (generally once a week) and is responsible for the missionaries in his district. It's his job to make sure everyone is safe and working hard on a more local and personalized level.
assistants to the president (assistants or AP) = Two elders who are, well, assistants to the mission  president. They are at the top of the line as far as missionary leadership goes. Their responsibilities vary depending on the mission. Some may travel around the mission, some may not so much. Basically they are there to help train missionaries.
investigator = An individual who the missionaries have taught at least one lesson to and has set another appointment for the next lesson.
potential investigator = An individual who the missionaries found while out working and who is interested in the gospel, but has not received a complete lesson yet. There is a spot in the area book where previous missionaries have written down potential investigators. One good type of finding work is to go through that list and find out if they are still interested in hearing the lessons.
former investigator = An individual who has heard at least one lesson but then for some reason or another stopped visiting with the missionaries. Another good type of finding work is to go through the list of former investigators in the area book to see if they are interested again in hearing the lessons.
area = The place where (usually) two missionaries are assigned to work. Areas can vary from a few blocks to a few hundred miles, depending on the mission. Missionaries are not allowed to leave their area without permission from their leaders.
area book = Each area will have a big binder called the area book with all the information about investigators, members, the area in general, etc. This helps the missionaries stay organized and keep track of any important information. It also helps new missionaries who have just come into the area learn about their area and the people they are going to teach.
referral = A name that is received from a member or investigator of someone who is interested in learning the gospel. This is the number one best way to find people to teach.
contacting = A type of missionary work that includes going out and talking to everyone you see on the street, on the bus, on the train, etc. and inviting them to hear the gospel.
tracting = A type of missionary work that includes knocking on doors in order to find people who may be interesting in the gospel. This is probably the most well-known type, but also probably the least effective.
transfer = One transfer is typically 6 weeks long. This does depend on the mission, however. Our transfers were usually 9 weeks long. The word "transfer" is also used when a missionary is "transferred" or moved to another area.

That's enough for now. Please comment if there's a word you'd like me to define in a future post!

Dealing with persecution

Fortunately, I did not have to deal with very much persecution as a missionary. However, I know that some missionaries do so I thought (after receiving ideas from family members) it'd be a good topic to bring up.

The number one rule here is to remember that you are a representative of Jesus Christ. Be sure that you are acting and behaving like He would. 

Here's an experience my dad had on his mission in France and Switzerland:
        "I had a companion that was a very "spirited" individual. When someone would shout obscenities or throw eggs at us he would get defensive and shout back - I taught him how to just wave back and pretend it was a greeting. Whenever we were bombarded with eggs we noted that not one egg hit us. Our bikes got hit, and they landed all around us, but never did they hit us directly. One time an egg hit me in the chest as I leaned forward. I suppose my suit coat cushioned the blow enough that the egg fell down unbroken. We stood there stunned, looking at the egg on the ground (it had broken when it hit the ground)... a simple thing, maybe. But to me it was a testimony that missionaries are protected - even if it only meant we were saved from having egg on us for our next appointment."

Once on my mission, we taught a young man who was from the middle east and yet was interested in Christianity. While in his home one day, his uncle, who was very against Christianity, came home. The uncle started yelling all sorts of things at us that were not true. (I don't remember exactly what they were but they were not nice.) We were very tempted to yell back and try to correct his beliefs about us, but we didn't. We just got up and left.

It is very hard sometimes to just ignore persecution and leave. The persecutors will often be saying things against what is very sacred to you. However, it will just make it worse to get defensive and fight back. They want you to fight back. So don't. Take a deep breath, and walk away. If you need to, sing hymns to yourself or say a prayer. Like my dad and his companion were, you will be blessed for it.

Like it says it 3 Nephi 11: 28-30:

28 And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no adisputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.
 29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit ofacontention is not of me, but is of the bdevil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
 30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things ashould be done away.

What are we, as missionaries, there for? To talk and preach of Christ. To bring peace, not contention.

In D&C 42:14, it says:

...if ye receive not the bSpirit ye shall not teach.

What would happen if you fought back? You'd lose the Spirit. Losing the Spirit makes it impossible to be an effective missionary.

You are a representative of Jesus Christ. Act and behave like He would and you will be an effective missionary.

Preparing to Leave #2

So, I found this site with TONS of awesome advice from many other returned missionaries. I will post the advice I liked (and haven't mentioned on this blog yet) here. To read all of it, here's the link:
(Note: some of this advice is a bit out of date)

- Start mission habits now. Study the scriptures, study Preach My Gospel, wake up early, exercise, write in your journal, bear your testimony frequently, etc.
- Go on splits with the missionaries
- Learn to recognize the Spirit and to rely on the Lord
- Start saving money as soon as possible
- Bring a personal CD player or MP3 player with travel speakers (no headphones)
- Learn to cook in small amounts and be prepared to deal with whatever the cooking supplies in each area are
- Learn to eat anything and everything
    (I had a companion who hated fish and unfortunately had to eat fish a lot. At one member's house, while the member was out of the room, this companion dumped her fish soup in my bowl and then I inhaled it. To this day I wonder if the member noticed that my bowl was empty when she left and yet I was chewing when she returned...)
- Bring a flashlight! And other things like scissors and markers. And music if you're musical.
- Bring pictures of family and friends (to look at and show companions on P-days)
- You will hear plenty of different things about the MTC. Some find it too confining. Some find it hard to sit in a desk for so long. Some hate the food, some love it. Most, if not all, will love the spiritual feast.
- Almost every missionary surveyed wished they hadn't left a girlfriend behind. Their advice was to drop the girl before you serve. If it's meant to be, she'll still be there when you return home.
- Many missionaries have a hard time adjusting to mission life. Top reasons why adjustment was difficult: Language, culture, immature missionaries, having to be with a companion 24/7, homesickness, schedules, leaving interests/hobbies, and leaving family/friends. Be as prepared as you can for a total and complete life change.
- Be social and work on your communication skills before you go
- Learn to love everyone, no matter how different they are
- Be prepared to work HARD
- Trust your mission president's advice
- Take every minute and be thankful. Time goes by so quickly so don't wish away your mission. It goes too quickly.

**For Preparing to Leave Part 1, click here.
**For tips on how to focus on preparing to serve a mission, click here.

Missionary haircuts (mostly for sisters)

So my sister-in-law brought up a good question. How do missionaries get their haircut in the mission field? At the MTC, they have (or at least they did when I was there) BYU cosmetology students who cut your hair for free while you are there. In the mission field, though... Elders have it pretty easy; a lot of guys can cut their own hair with hair clippers. You could have your companion or other missionaries do it. Some state-side missions may have barbers who will do missionary haircuts for free. Other than that, you could ask members, or maybe even the people you teach. But, as a sister (and even as an elder too), it may be hard to find someone you trust enough to cut your hair. Especially as a missionary where it is important to look your best. A good idea might be to learn how to do it yourself! My sister-in-law found a couple of good little videos on youtube that might help you. Both she and my sister have tried it and it worked out really well for them. I am strongly considering trying it out myself.

Here's how to cut and layer your own hair in only a few minutes. It would probably work best for girls with medium/long hair who want long layers. 

Here's another one that shows how to do some framing around your face.

Setting goals

- When I was in the MTC, I was having a hard time setting goals that I didn't have control over. For example, at the referral center, where you get to talk to people on the phone and ask if they're interested in having missionaries come over, you'll set goals on how many referrals you can get, or how many times you'll send the missionaries to someone's house. I hated this since I didn't control whether they agreed or not. So I made a personal goal to bear my testimony to everyone I talked to. THAT I could control, and it led to some of the people agreeing to have the missionaries over. And those who didn't agree, well, hopefully they felt the spirit. Anyways, this became a pattern for my mission. I focused on setting personal goals I could control and those helped me reach (or at least helped me work on) the goals I could not control. And even if I didn't reach the goals I couldn't control, I still felt like I had worked as hard as I could and maybe even made a difference in someone's life.
- Setting goals is a big part of missionary work. Try not to worry too much about the numbers though. Easier said than done, of course, but if you can do this, it'll make your life a lot happier. Numbers are important because they help you set and reach goals and they help you keep track of your progress. But don't get so tied up with numbers that you forget about the people they represent.
- You will receive a daily planner every 6 weeks. You will learn how to use it to plan and set goals at the MTC and in your first few weeks in the field. Do what they tell you to do with it! Using the planner correctly will help you be organized and will help you not waste time.